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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 2, 2009 1:45am-3:00am EDT

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soldiers." it is true, i did work four, work on robert frost's, former state in vermont and had other kinds of various and checker jobs on my way to becoming a full-time writer. in 2003 published the last edition of my first book, in harm's way and that led directly into horse soldiers and i'm going to talk about that this afternoon, about how i arrived at the story and what they think the story of the special forces soldiers in afghanistan means. in harm's way is a book about 900 young men in world war ii hugh in july 1945 were dumped into the pacific ocean and through negligence, left to drown there. we come to know this story to the movie jaws later on.
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the famous monologue that you know about, captain quince about being aboard that ship and so on and so forth. these men really existed. some more actually from our area here and i went and i met them and it was really a book, and their story was really about selflessness and service and community. i wondered if i could write a similar book about the modern soldier. in 2001, in october of that year, just six weeks after 9/11, and we don't know that. all of this in this room here now like me didn't know what was going to happen next after we turned on the radius and heard the news of those attacks. i remember where i was. i was walking into a cargo at the same time someone who has now become an acquaintance to the process of writing this book, there's a soldier named calves denser getting out of a
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river in kentucky after a night of routine training. he is nearing 40. he is feeling like he is getting too old for this kind of business because he wishes he were home having a martini. leni turns on the radio he hears what i'm hearing and what you heard too and he knows that whether something is going to happen. what happened was something historic and it never happened before in the history of the united states. that is special forces soldiers, a band of 12 men, middle-aged for all practical purposes are sent into afghanistan to attack the taliban and yet steps fanta does 9/11 key at. they were actually plans thee if you want to think about it for a moment but they become plan a very quickly. it was a brilliant stroke of planning and what they did work. they did oust the taliban. their structure did collapse and for all intents and purposes as the book says, as the subtitle
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of the books as they did achieve a strategic victory. so, the book begins with that 9/11 crisis and we follow them from their homes and then into afghanistan and we come back to their homes because they feel this is a book about, as one of the people on the team, who left to the business of the book, after the action of this come back, went on to actually teach it was pointed in the new counter-terrorism program there. a very smart guy. all of these people are so intelligent and interesting. i have learned more about problem-solving by talking with these members of the military community than i have anywhere else, to be quite honest. i have been privileged to traveler run the country and speak at the special operations command at fort bragg and meet with three star general john small holland you the time was at fort campbell and commanding
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these guys. i also went to fort campbell and went back and address the troops many of whom are in the book. i tried to send a copy of the book to most people in it. i am still in the process of doing that. waiting for those refused to come back by mailbox and they are all great reviews, so it has been a very interesting long process. the book took quite a while to write. i travel to afghanistan. i have should you about 100 people. interviewed the guys on the ground. i interviewed many afghans and also the pilots and so on. we will talk here a moment and then we will take some questions, but i just want to describe do you, to return to the beginning and have come set our minds back here to what it is we faced that in september and october of 2001. i would like for all this in the room to imagine we are in a small village in afghanistan and
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i have just arrived to meet you. my job is to hopefully convince you to do something that is in both of our self-interest, so i know that in the room hear their people at this table will have their own self-interest in people over here have their own as well and they may not get along, and somewhere in the back of the room there may be someone who is the nominal leader of the village. perhaps there is this gentleman over here that once the position of power. when i moved into this society i already in my base camp in my crummy tense back in uzbekistan have been poring over intelligence reports, been going over language skills. i have been reading about you so when i enter into the room or the village i know quite a bit of ready. my job is never really even to have to pull the trigger if i don't have to. simply begin to move about in create political change and social change by trying to get you guys and you guys over here to get along in point in one
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direction. the person in the back of the room who thinks he is in shards, maybe i'm going to convince the brim that maybe you over here should be in charge. my job is not to change your world and make gittmer my own. ada simply to marry our mutual interests and in october of 2001 those interest for this. afghanistan was the site of the camps that incubative binnun 11 attacks. you in this room, in this village, if you are not happy with the taliban at all. you have been living under them since 1997, 98. the rooms in this window had been painted black. that is of the people walking outside cannot see any of the women sitting in harry eating. those of you in this room who were sitting next to a man you are not related to, you of just broken the law. all of the males in the room are clean shaven-- most of us anyway and you to have broken the law. for this you may. >> don, wit, carried to the
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soccer stadium and even more serious punishment could be meted out. this is then your life. this life that you have not necessarily chosin however, has been thrust upon you for a very simple reason. after the soviets pulled out in 1989 from afghanistan, these various groups of us in this graham began fighting each other. we are of one ethnic background in this room. let's say we are all tajik or were the same group that was part of the massoud group. you may know him. he was somewhat of a famous afghan leader. he was assassinated september 9, 2001, 2 days before september 11. in an effort by al qaeda to cut the head of the leadership of the remaining resistance to the taliban movement which is the time controlled 90% of afghanistan. massoud is hanging on by its fingernails and the panter valley and according to the people in the book and i have
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been on the phone contacting many of them white and traveling, it seemed probably the reason since would have collapsed within a matter of months. had not the american forces arrived. so, we are tajik so we have been fighting with is that sandy has there is and so on. after the soviet pullout, what is happening is we can't even move from this room to the next floor here without paying a tariff or being held up at gunpoint by a band that. we can take their goods to market prevent the country is the vault into the wild west, so one day however the bandits go too far in these are freelancers of no real political stripe. it is not of religious orientation and they have no agenda except their own self-interest. when dey however to young children are killed by these bandits. the villagers near kandahar are so in rates that they run to
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mullah omar, a man whom we know more know about in the news. he is the leader of the taliban and they say to mullah omar, please do something about this. he has among him a collection of young fundamentalists, who believe in a certain strict interpretation of the koran and they are called to lead's which means student in arabic or the taliban. this young contre or posse goes after and a actually arrest the perpetrators of this crime and they hang them. this is a very happy thing for the villagers and in fact so they the posse, also overtime the posse increases in strength and size and force. it is almost viral in nature so now they are actually stilling this tropicana versus the point of their own sword but by the time some nominal piece of security has been secured in the country, the price of that is we
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know all realize here in this village, the windows are black, the women cannot move freely etc., etc.. into this then, september 2001, the attacks in america. our leaders and their villages are bent down to their small radios, listing to the bbc, listening like we were to these attacks and one of them, the his era leader is thinking finally, finally the americans are coming. because he is tired of fighting alone. he has been scaling mount clips. his men dressed in dress shoes with dress socks and shorts, carrying ak-47's with duck's tape slings made out of them, climbing to this know what the taliban on the top floor firing down on them. his men won't give up. they are so low on bullets that
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there's cowering the dirt around them, finding unsent arounds putting them in buckets of crushed glass which they then shaken that polishes the casing again so you can be loaded into a magazine and refire it. this is how desperate things are. so, you can imagine then back in the states, wind cowles denser gets into his truck he does not know any of this either but when he arrived suddenly after a harrowing helicopter ride to the himalayas, it is night, it is dark, it is freezing. it is 16, 17,000 feet sometimes. these are the famous pilots of the 160 of special operations aviation regimen also known as the 160 it sort. many of you may know them from that great book, blackhawk down and the movie as well. they are the best of the best when it comes to helicopter
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pilots. i was privileged to spend a week or so with them, talking in taking their oral histories as well. just flying into the country. it is that night, there's so much dust and grit in the air that the plates are striking this particulate and creating double gold and helos atop the helicopter as it moves to the night. there are no lights blinking except this year a globe and there are guys on the ramp with straps on these guns waiting for any kind of fire to come up from the ground. sometimes there was fire from the ground. they are always in threat of flying to a fatal dead end of a fatal physics equation which is they had no more power and no more lift to get through this thin mountain air and would have to turn sometimes on their own axes and stairstep the way back down and find another way. one of these guys flew 80 nights in a row.
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unbelievable. sitting in the middle jump seat, a pilot here, another crew member here, he is dave map opened and they all have night-vision goggles on. they have all this year and electronics the basically in the end, he is saying, it looks like if we turn left right here we will gain 5 feet in elevation because you can't suddenly power the helicopter had been tried to lift it because you have run out of lifton power and nothing air so it's like they are creeping up to the air. they do this and in fact i said to those guys, would you have done is incredible. can i put it in the book? they were actually quite glad to cooperate with me. no one had ever flown so high, according to them in u.s. army history. they land. it is 12 people. before they get into the helicopter i should say mall
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call on, who is colonel mall holland in that fifth group shakes their hand, he looks them and i, and he says you guys are its. i don't know-- hugo as i believe this will come out okay but i don't know what to tell you about what you are going to face because we don't know a whole lot. it is only six weeks now since 9/11. the whole world has been going on, the news cycles bubbling in burbling with what is next and what is going to happen. inner team rooms at fort campbell they had been given discovery channel with videotapes, and old national geographic to study what afghan than it is like. that is their intelligence in the beginning. it got much more complex, but that level or on the other hand i think there is nothing wrong with that because they are doing everything they can to try to prepare these guys. they write letters home saying if you are reading this letter, things did not turn out well for
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me. they are taking off their wedding rings-- rains and putting them in a manila envelope and sealing it in handing it to the chaplain and now they are landed. mall holland said to them, trusts no one, even the afghans themselves may try to kidnap you for ransom etc., etc.. so there really in no man's land of the odd thing is special forces relish this kind of opportunity. much like the oss officers in world war ii, out of which special forces eventually grew, formed officially in 1952. they are trained to work behind enemy lines. they speak the language. like i said they know everything about the culture they are going into, often as much as any college professor anywheres of a job then is to live among the population then try to make things happen and exploit opportunities.
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